New Mexico health insurance site overwhelmed on first day
Posted at: 10/01/2013 5:29 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The program at the center of the showdown in Congress – The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” – is not affected by the government shutdown. The online health insurance exchange opened for business today, but some New Mexicans are facing problems as they try to sign up.
New Mexico businesses can sign up on the state website, but individuals and families are redirected to the federal one. That’s where some people are having trouble.
Some New Mexicans have been counting down the days to get on bewellnm.com for months.
“I was absolutely ready to go. It’s been on my calendar since they announced it,” Mary Montano said.
Montano logged onto www.bewellnm.com first thing Tuesday morning. She clicked on individuals and families and got redirected to the federal signup page, then looped back to the state one.
She wasn’t alone with her problems. KOB Eyewitness News 4 got calls, emails and Facebook comments reporting issues. Some people got confused while waiting in an online queue. Others couldn’t sign up for log-in accounts.
“I'm hoping it’s all just a technical bug and that they'll fix it and I can get on and do what I need to do: Sign up for health care,” Montano said.
The exchange board says yes – these are technical bugs. More than 1 million people visited the federal site this morning – 5 times more users than they’ve ever had on a website like this at one time.
The board suggests people wait a couple days, or get help from their hotline. You can call 1-855-99-NMHIX for help 24 hours a day, 4 days a week.
You can also get help at an Income Support Division website. Visit the site below to see a list of locations.
You can also wait a few days while webmasters work out site kinks. Just make sure, if you don’t have private insurance or Medicaid, that you sign up before Jan 1. If you don’t, there is a grace period until March 31, but you could face penalties.
Penalties start at $95. A family of four could pay up to $285, or 1% of household income if that is a greater amount. The penalty will be asked for at tax time.